Thursday, October 4, 2012

NHL cancels first two weeks of the regular season

By Andrew Allsman| Posted: October 4th, 2012| Contact  |

The NHL, much to the displeasure of fans and players, announced on Thursday the cancellation of all regular season games through Oct. 24. A total of 82 games will be axed from the regular season schedule due to this decision.

The NHL and the players association met several times this past week, but not to discuss hockey-related revenue distribution, the issue that will ultimately make or break the season, but to talk about the 'micro' issues. When the sides met on Tuesday to talk about hockey-related revenue, the meeting ended prematurely and it reinforced the idea that the sides are still far apart. 

The regular season was scheduled to start on Oct. 11, now it cannot start until Oct. 25 at the earliest, but even that seems unlikely. Recent discussions on hockey-related revenue have been futile. The NHL says the players need to submit a new proposal for negotiations to continue, whereas the players think it's the owners who need to make more concessions. What seems like a simple problem could cause the NHL to lose an entire season. It would be the second season lost in as many CBA negotiations.

Due to the two week cancellation announced today, the Blues will not play their first five regular season games. The following are the games cancelled from the Blues schedule:

*Oct. 11: Blues at Colorado Avalance

*Oct. 13: Blues at Nashville Predators

*Oct. 18: Detroit Red Wings at Blues (home opener)

*Oct. 20: Minnesota Wild at Blues

*Oct. 23: Chicago Blackhawks at Blues

Three of the above games that have been cancelled are against Central Division opponents.

The following is a statement issued by NHLPA director Don Fehr on the NHL's decision to cancel the first two weeks of the season:

“The decision to cancel the first two weeks of the NHL season is the unilateral choice of the NHL owners. If the owners truly cared about the game and the fans, they would lift the lockout and allow the season to begin on time while negotiations continue.  A lockout should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort.  For nearly 20 years, the owners have elected to lock-out the players in an effort to secure massive concessions.  Nevertheless, the players remain committed to playing hockey while the partieswork to reach a deal that is fair for both sides. We hope we will soon have a willing negotiating partner.”

Earlier in the week the NHL reported substantial losses due to the cancellation of the preseason. The losses were said to be nearly $100 million according to NHL deputy commissioner, Bill Daly. The amount of money lost due to the cancellation of regular season games will be far greater.

ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reported that talks could pick up in Toronto later this week. The NHL and NHLPA haven't ruled out the possibility of using a mediator to help move talks along. A move most feel would do little good.

"A mediator can only be helpful if both sides are willing to embrace it and compromise," Daly told reporters. "We certainly haven't ruled out that possibility."

After announcing the cancelling of games on Thursday, Bill Daly released the following statement:

"We were extremely disappointed to have to make today's announcement. The game deserves better, the fans deserve better and the people who derive income from their connection to the NHL deserve better.

"We remain committed to doing everything in our power to forge an agreement that is fair to the players, fair to the teams and good for our fans.
"This is not about 'winning' or 'losing' a negotiation. This is about finding a solution that preserves the long-term health and stability of the League and the game.
"We are committed to getting this done."